Computers are now part of everyday life. For most of us, technology is essential to our lives, at home and at work. Logical, computational thinking are transferable skills and are at the heart of this subject as is the desire to encourage our pupils to become independent learners so that they are ready for the future workplace and able to participate effectively in this digital world.
The core of computing is computer science, in which pupils are taught the principles of information and computation, how digital systems work and how to put this knowledge to use through programming. Building on this knowledge and understanding, pupils are equipped to use information technology to create programs, systems and a range of content. Computing also ensures that pupils become digitally literate – able to use computers safely, express themselves and develop their ideas by using communication technology. The Computing curriculum is divided into the following themes:
- Understanding Computers: E-safety, digital citizenship, hardware and software
- Business Computing: Databases, spreadsheets, word processing, email
- Creative Computing: Web authoring, Presentations, graphics, Publishing
- Computer Programming: Computer control, scratch and python programming
Within this year we seek to consolidate prior computing knowledge and skills and lay the foundations for progression into programming activities within the rest of this key stage.
The work undertaken includes:
- designing and creating databases and extracting information from them
- becoming proficient in the use of spreadsheets including the ability to confidently handle the basic functions such as sum and average functions and the ability to display results graphically
- desktop publishing skills and the ability to select and present information targeted at a specific audience
- the use of simple programming logic to write procedures in order to create original animations
- developing presentations that are designed to meet specific requirements and which are capable of being used in a linear or non-linear mode
- an understanding of e-safety is embedded into all aspects of work undertaken in the key stage.
The course in Year 8 is designed to explore and build an understanding of the features of a computer both in terms of its hardware components and the software that is used to manage it. This is used as a context for developing computer programming skills.
The work undertaken includes:
- Understanding the components in a computer and their function. This covers, CPU’s, Ram, Rom chips, Motherboards. The term digital computing is explored and how computers stores information in Binary is examined.
- Pupils learn the important features to look for in the selection of a new computer such as the speed of CPU, Ram, Graphics card and Hard Disk as well as the cost of the machine.
- Programming in the real world using software to control the operation of things such as automatic lighthouses a flowchart based introduction to programming that enables pupils to understand instructions and sequencing of instructions.
- Progression to programming that uses a block based development environment (Scratch) which encourages pupils to experiment with building programs without having to remember the correct language syntax
- The Python programming language is then used to develop an understanding of the basic programming syntax needed to write more professional programs. This is used for text based activities such as creating word games.
In Year 9 we continue to develop an understanding of the components of a computer and how they work. Programming activities are taught using a variety of languages which are used to examine complex sequences of commands.
The work undertaken includes:
- Mobile computing is examined and use is made of tablet computers to explore the opportunities and excitement of designing and building a mobile App that is capable of being used on a smartphone or tablet
- Pupils continue to work on the structured programming language, python, learning how to use complex ‘if statements’ and ‘function calls’. These are used to create text based games requiring the application of a clear and logical thought process.
- The development of Interactive programs is taught which uses the skills learnt to control the movement of graphics on a page.
- Continued development of awareness of the components of a computer and how they operate. In particular pupils examine the role of the operating system.
At Key Stage 3 work is assessed using a common system of assessment which makes use of a skill and capability profile that pupils actively maintain and develop. Pupils assess the skills they have against this profile which enables them to see the progress they are making enabling them to identify how to progress to the next level.
Pupils are encouraged to download software at home to support their learning in the classroom. The programs we use are Scratch and Python both of which are free programs and can be used on most computer platforms. In addition the school provides pupils with user accounts for a number of 3rd party programming sites, such as www.code.org and www.codecdemy.com. These sites are used to encourage independent learning but in addition some homework tasks are also set so that pupils can take advantage of the self-paced learning material and the video based tutorials available. These sites and the homework that is set are monitored and controlled by the teacher. Further homework is set, when it is appropriate, on the Virtual Learning Environment. Such homework is set as an on-line assignment and is submitted onto the Vle where it is marked and entered into an on-line mark book which pupils access to see their mark and progress.
Key Stage 4
You will learn how computers work on this course and how and why data is stored in binary. In addition to learning practical programming skills, you will also study computer hardware, software, Operating Systems, Algorithms and logic as well as looking at why encryption is so important in computing and how databases and graphics programs are used. You will also have the opportunity to build a computer and configure it, as well as seeing how to connect it to a network. You will discover why networks are so important in modern computing be it the simple peer to peer network or the largest network in the world, the Internet.
During the course you will produce a project that is worth 20% of your overall mark. You will be given a scenario and undertake the analysis of the problem you have selected before designing a system, writing the solution in Python and then testing and implementing it.
In addition to this you will take two written exams at the end of the course, each worth 40% of your GCSE grade:
- Principles of Computer Science
- Application of Computational Thinking
In a world that is increasingly dependent upon computer technology, there is a significant demand for those with computing knowledge, skills and expertise, and a shortage of supply of those who possess them. This course provides you with a skill set that is essential and desirable in many professions and jobs today. It opens doors directly into industry or into further study and specialism at A level and university, and then onwards into a rich and diverse range of careers.